More than a million evacuated as Cyclone Fani lashes India

More than a million evacuated as Cyclone Fani lashes India

Cyclone Fani has torn through India's eastern coast as a grade 5 storm, lashing beaches with rain and winds gusting up to 200km/h and affecting weather as far away as Mount Everest as it approached the former imperial capital of Kolkata.

The India Meteorological Department said the "extremely severe" cyclone in the Bay of Bengal hit the coastal state of Odisha, with weather impacted across the Asian subcontinent.

Dust storms were forecast in the desert state of Rajasthan, bordering Pakistan, heatwaves in the coastal state of Maharashtra on the Arabian Sea, heavy rain in north-eastern states bordering China and snowfall in the Himalayas.

Around 1.2 million people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Odisha and moved to nearly 4,000 shelters, according to India's National Disaster Response Force.

Indian officials put the navy, air force, army and coastguard on high alert. Odisha special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said the evacuation effort was unprecedented in India.

By this afternoon, Fani had weakened to a "very severe" storm as it hovered over coastal Odisha and was forecast to move north-northeast towards the Indian state of West Bengal by Friday evening.

The airport in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, closed and at least 200 trains were cancelled across India.

More than a million evacuated as Cyclone Fani lashes India

The storm hit in the middle of India's six-week general election, with rain forecast in Kolkata forcing political parties to cancel campaign events.

The National Disaster Response Force dispatched 54 rescue and relief teams of doctors, engineers and deep-sea divers to flood-prone areas along the coast and as far afield as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which comprise a union territory about 840 miles east of mainland India in the Bay of Bengal.

Up to 4 inches of rain was expected in much of Sri Lanka, off the eastern tip of India.

More than 1,430 miles away on Mount Everest, some mountaineers and Sherpa guides were descending to lower camps as the weather worsened at higher elevations.

The government issued a warning that heavy snow was expected in the higher mountain areas with rain and storms lower down, and asked trekking agencies to take tourists to safety.

More than a million evacuated as Cyclone Fani lashes India

Hundreds of climbers, their guides, cooks and porters huddled at the Everest base camp, according to Pemba Sherpa of Xtreme Climbers Trek, who said weather and visibility was poor.

May is the best month to climb 29,035ft Everest when Nepal experiences a few windows of good weather to scale the peak.

On India's cyclone scale, Fani is the second-most severe, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.

Its timing is unusual, according to data from the Meteorological Department. Most extremely severe cyclones hit India's east coast in the post-monsoon season.

Because Fani spent 10 days gathering strength over the sea, it delivered a huge blow when it made landfall.

Some of the deadliest tropical cyclones on record have occurred in the Bay of Bengal. A 1999 super cyclone killed around 10,000 people and devastated large parts of Odisha.

Due to improved forecasts and better disaster management, the death toll from Cyclone Phailin, an equally intense storm that hit in 2013, was less than 50, according to the World Meteorological Organisation.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Tipperary deliver the telling blows after Hogan dismissalTipperary deliver the telling blows after Hogan dismissal

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba will remain at Manchester UnitedOle Gunnar Solskjaer believes Paul Pogba will remain at Manchester United

Pochettino: Moving Premier League summer transfer deadline was ‘massive mistake’Pochettino: Moving Premier League summer transfer deadline was ‘massive mistake’

We dignify this sport – ‘Delighted’ Guardiola salutes CityWe dignify this sport – ‘Delighted’ Guardiola salutes City

More in this Section

Iceland bids farewell to glacier; PM blames climate changeIceland bids farewell to glacier; PM blames climate change

Iran ‘preparing new satellite launch’ despite US criticismIran ‘preparing new satellite launch’ despite US criticism

Three dead as rival fans clash before Honduran football gameThree dead as rival fans clash before Honduran football game

Feminist figurehead Steinem blasts Israeli PM over US congresswomen travel banFeminist figurehead Steinem blasts Israeli PM over US congresswomen travel ban


Lifestyle

Five things for the week ahead with Des O'Driscoll.Five things for the week ahead

From Liverpool’s beat-pop to Bristol’s trip-hop, Irish writer Karl Whitney explains the distinctive musical output of individual cities in the UK, writes Marjorie Brennan.Sounds of the City: The musical output of individual UK cities

As landlords’ enclosures of villages and commonages during England’s industrial revolution drove landless countrymen into the maws of the poet William Blake’s “dark Satanic mills”, a romantic nostalgia for the countryside began to grow.Damien Enright: Great writers took inspiration from walking

Take no risks, ‘do all the right things’, and you’ll lead a comfortable, but dull, existence. ‘Living dangerously’, on the other hand, yields ‘highs’ of excitement usually followed, alas, by pain andRichard Collins: Live fast and die young or last up to 500 years

More From The Irish Examiner